Portsmouth defence hub’s £23m boost will create jobs boom

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A MAJOR new £23m deal has been signed to create a hi-tech defence hub, creating up to 100 jobs across the area.

QinetiQ and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have joined forces to redevelop Portsdown Technology Park.

The ambition is to build a brand new centre of excellence for maritime mission systems.

Bosses behind the plan say it will be a key addition for the area’s maritime and defence industry – opening up fresh opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses and universities.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said the news was ‘fantastic’, adding: ‘The investment from QinetiQ and the Solent LEP will have huge benefits for the city, creating jobs and helping local businesses expand their markets.

‘This will help cement the Solent region’s position as a hub for expertise in the marine and maritime sector.’

Working alongside the Royal Navy, QinetiQ is pumping in £18m to construct the centre of excellence. Solent LEP will add £5m into the project’s kitty.

It will create a combat system engineering academy that businesses and students will have an opportunity to get involved with.

Steve Fitz-Gerald, QinetiQ managing director, maritime, land and weapons, said: ‘This investment delivers a step change in the Solent region’s ability to export to the world’s marine and maritime defence markets, with a range of capabilities unparalleled in the UK.

‘It builds on our commitment to modernising the UK’s test and evaluation capability, ensuring it continues to support the safety and operational advantage of our armed forces.’

News of the investment follows the announcement in September that QinetiQ is to provide combat system expertise for the navy’s new Type 26 frigates at Portsdown.

The £8m deal was an amendment to the existing Naval Combat System Integration Support Services contract, first signed in 2012 and renewed at £110m for a further 11 years in 2016.

Portsdown has been key in testing complex combat and communications gear for more than 45 years. The work on the new hub is due to begin in the summer.